It is the middle of winter and COVID cases and deaths are still rising in most states despite a new president and all the CDC's precautions and prescriptions. Variants of the virus are threatening more lockdowns, the cycles of illness and economic recovery. The stock market suffered its worst week since October. Unemployment and closed businesses are still at an all-time high. Therefore, it is no surprise that Americans are understandably more frustrated, anxious and depressed than ever before.
The American Psychological Association recently issued a warning that stress increases alone in America are "seriously threatening the mental health of our country, particularly our youngest generation." The clearest evidence for that is one in four 17-21-year-old young adults have contemplated suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the CDC's own reports.
"Loneliness and uncertainly about the future are major stressors for adolescents and young adults, who are striving to find their places in the world, both socially, and in terms of education and work. The pandemic and its economic consequences are upending youths' social lives and their visions for their futures," explained Emma Adam, Ph.D., Edwina S. Tarry Professor of Education and Social Policy to the American Psychological Association. "We must work to provide social, emotional and mental health supports to this generation, while providing much-needed financial assistance and educational and work opportunities for youth. Both comfort now and hope for the future are essential for the long-term well-being of this generation."
But here's the rub: Families I talk to across the nation want to provide the social, emotional and mental health supports for their posterity, but they are doing so while fighting state and federal governments that are suppressing those very supports and solutions by tighter restrictions, lockdowns and closures.
I've already detailed many of these dangers in a previous column: "7 dire consequences and collateral damages from lockdowns." We are watching each come to fruition right now. Deaths of despair (the casualties most often overlooked by mainstream media) are reaching 200,000 lives lost. The fact is: As the feds and state officials have tried to save people from the claws of the coronavirus, they have inadvertently handed them over to the jaws of the diseases of despair.
We've learned some tough and critical lessons through this COVID season of American life. Let me highlight two of the biggest:
- Government is often wrong. Feds and state officials said shutting down our lives and economy was our way to flatten the curve and keep us safe, but it wasn't. In fact, multiple nation studies have now shown that tighter government restrictions and lockdowns are both ineffective in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and likely hasten its spread, due to the fact that most cases are spread at home and in close quarters with others. Case in point, Los Angeles County under liberal Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, who has enacted the longest and most extensive lockdowns of any state, has experienced record-setting infection of the coronavirus over the past few months. Leaders like Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis are now leading the way in responsibly reopening the Sunshine State's schools, economy and even social gatherings in the midst of the pandemic. At some point, the feds have got to come to grips with the fact that we the people can far better care for our own than bureaucrats ever could. What a shock!
- Despite a year of the CDC and mainstream media's pounding mantra of "social distancing, wear masks and wash your hands," the virus has continued to grow and morph. Vaccinations may not even be the hope and cure-all they are being pitched to be. The nation of Israel is proving this right now. With more than 30% of its population vaccinated, and after inoculating 82% of Israelis age 60 and older, the nation is still experiencing a wave of infection that refuses to decline, according to Bloomberg News. This isn't welcome news, especially with the CDC's new public release that variant strains causing COVID-19 are entering the U.S. from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.
I write a weekly C-Force health and fitness column in addition to this culture warrior column. Occasionally, the subjects touch close to and even overlap each other. This is one of those cases. When Americans' health risks multiply mental issues, we know we're in a full-blown culture war for the American mind.
For too many Americans, 2021 is looking like more-of-the-same-2020. Each day seems like those in the now classic movie "Groundhog Day," in which Bill Murray's character, Phil Collins, is caught in an arrested time dimension living out the very same day every day with no apparent way out. But there was a way out for Collins, just as there's a way out for us as well. And it's not going to happen by waiting passively in our homes for COVID cases to disappear, as so many seem to be doing. Its' about reassessing, reclaiming and reassimilating back into life, or at least into a new and temporary normal until the storm settles.
Bottom line: It's time for all Americans to quit waiting for federal or state governments to provide for your welfare, protection, relief and especially a sign to reboot your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. If you're waiting for the downtrend in COVID-19 before you venture out of your home, studies show you might lose your mind waiting for that moment. One thing is certain: everything we're doing isn't saving or restoring the American mind and dreams. Friends, after a year of this increased COVID chaos, it's time to seize back our lives and our nation.
So, let me give you four pieces of heartfelt advice to ponder for application into your life and loved ones:
- Switch from an external health fight to an internal one. While government officials are now saying it's time to ante-up with double-masking, I say fight back against COVID and any other winter illnesses by waging war on the inside of your body. There is a help far greater than masks not being reported by mainstream media. It can actually minimize symptoms or prevent COVID altogether: that is, building up your internal immune system, and especially assuring you have proper dosages of Vitamin D, which you primarily get from sunlight exposure. (The nearly ubiquitous deficiency of Vitamin D has been found in COVID patients around the world.) Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agrees. Don't believe me? Please read this JAMA Network report on Vitamin D and Harvard Medical study about boosting your immune system to ward off disease When government officials and maybe even family members say "stay inside," go outside and get at least 20-30 minutes of sun exposure daily for your body's necessary dosage of Vitamin D. Sunlight is also great for your mind. Read my C-Force weekly column for more great tips on your health.
- Get out of self-preservation mode and do something with/for others. Survival mode can easily morph to selfish mode. But we were called to do more than survive. We were created for community and called to be blessing, not just be blessed. It's a part of our God-given makeup. Volunteering can actually make and keep you healthy, too. (Read these "6 health benefits of volunteering" by the Mayo Clinic.) If you're healthy and don't spend time around people with compromised immune systems, then don't be afraid to follow charitable groups' social protocol and safety guidelines to help those in your local community. Contact your local soup kitchens, meal providers, churches, shelters and family service agencies to help vulnerable individuals make it through the long winter months. For more information on ways to volunteer in your local community, visit volunteermatch.org.
- Feed and educate yourself on far more than mainstream media or social network news or narratives. Take a break from social media (Read the Wall Street Journal's "Why I'm Taking A Social-Media Sabbath"). Turn off the TV, especially the news. Take more walks. Watch and read positive news stories, testimonies and publications. Read a positive biography or fiction book to inspire you. Look for other alternative brain or mental-boosting solutions not being broadcast across the airways. For example, ponder the 2020 Harvard study that showed that regularly attending church services boosts your immune system as well as reduces diseases and deaths of despair. You might not attend a faith center or yours might be closed; so, find one that's open and reintroduce yourself to empowering faith-filled social gatherings with safety precautions of course. Your mind and spirit will thank you!
- Don't stop testing all things and holding fast to that which is good. Lastly, speaking of being open to different truths or narratives, I believe Thomas Jefferson led the way in showing us that being open to even what some might consider adverse thinking can be beneficial. Jefferson forged the American spirit of education when he wrote William Roscoe on Dec. 27, 1820, about his vision for the University of Virginia (chartered in 1819): "This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error as long as reason is left free to combat it." On that note, though the feds and mainstream media abhor her and have tried to demonize her contributions, I find the dissenting voice of the founder of America's Front Line Doctors, Dr. Simone Melissa Gold enlightening and educating. She earned her double doctorate from the University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago and her Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School. Say what you will about her and her views, but I think she was at the top of her game two weeks ago speaking on her presentation, "COVID and the Vaccine." As the Bible states, "Test all things, and hold fast to that which is good."
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